LA VIE EN ROSE

REVIEW BY DAVE SMITH

The title of this movie translates loosely to "looking at life through rose colored glasses." This was certainly a necessity for the great French singer Edith Piaf. Piaf was the daughter of a street singer and a circus acrobat. Her mother dumped her on her father and her father dumped her on his mother who just happened to be a prostitute. Piaf spent a number of her formative years in a brothel. It was there that a kindly prostitute "adopted" her and encouraged her singing. One day her father returned and took her with him to perform on the streets. It was in this atmosphere that she learned to project and thereby developed a surprisingly strong voice for a little waif who was only four feet eight inches tall.

As is the case with many film bios, Piaf's life is not told chronologically. Her many marriages and affairs are worked effortlessly into the film. Apparently the love of her life was the great French boxer Marcel Cerdan. When she begged Cerdan (who was married with children) to fly back to Paris to join her, he was tragically killed in a plane crash. Piaf is personified by Marion Cotillard. Cotillard gives one of the all time great biographical portrayals in this film. I am not sure how many of the songs are actually sung by Cotillard and how many are Piaf's voice but there is evidently some mixture. Director Olivier Dahan manages to condense the many triumphs and tragedies in Piaf's life into a mesmerizing whole. This film will probably make you want to go out and buy some of Piaf's songs. Roger Ebert even tells you where to go to get some free downloads...

http:www.youtube.com/watch? v=rbs15 203Ms    (click on "see all videos")

It's amazing that Piaf was able to sing at all. She was a morphine addict, and an alcoholic. Because of this, she aged prematurely dying at 47 looking like she was 75. Cotillard handles the aging process skillfully, showing Piaf performing hunchbacked and wasted but still throwing out her powerful voice. Guess what?  I am one of the few people who predicted Cotillard would get a best actress Oscar for this film.  I was amazed when I heard her name mentioned as the winner.

 

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